Problem 16Q

Can a particle of nonzero mass attain the speed of light? Explain.

Step-by-step solution

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SOLUTION:

When there is an increase in the speed of the object, the inertial mass of the object also increases. For speeds significantly less than the speed of light, the increase in mass is nearly imperceptible, but as the speed of light is approached, the mass starts to increase very rapidly toward infinity. Theoretically, the mass would become infinite if the object could be accelerated all the way to the speed of light. However, because the acceleration of an object because of a a given force is inversely proportional to its inertial mass, as the speed of the light is approached the force required actually to reach the speed of light also becomes infinite. Therefore, it is impossible to actually accelerate an object with non-zero rest mass to the speed of light.